Towards a national strategy for public legal education

Discussion paper published in 2004 by Advice Services Alliance, the Citizenship Foundation and Legal Action Group making the case for a national strategy for public legal education.

The paper argues that there is an urgent need to promote public awareness and knowledge of legal issues, to help overcome the difficulties that most people experience dealing with the law in their daily lives. PLE contributes to active citizenship and social cohesion - and helps strengthen civil society. In addition, involvement in public legal education projects can bring benefits to legal professionals.

Read the paper: Towards a national strategy for Public Legal Education (198 KB)

Legal education is part of providing an integrated approach to legal services - a view that is endorsed in other jurisdictions such as Canada and New Zealand. The paper lists the different ways that PLE has been provided in the UK and suggests that they could be developed as part of a coherent programme.

The paper finally considers who should be responsible for PLE and what steps should be taken. If PLE is to be taken seriously, there needs to be a step change in the way it is promoted and resourced - there needs to be a national strategy. The authors stress that this need should be expressly acknowledged across government, should have the support of the judiciary and legal professional bodies as well as legal education bodies and voluntary organisations. Support from curriculum bodies for schools and lifelong learning would also be of great importance.

The paper proposes that a single body/organisation should take responsibility for championing public legal education and promoting its development at a national level.

The results of the consultation were published as 'Public legal education: A proposal for development' in June 2005 with a key recommendation to establish a steering group to review how best to improve PLE. See Proposal for development (266 KB)